Fontbonne University is a co-ed liberal arts Catholic institution of approximately 3,000 students (including 120+ international students from 25+ countries) in Clayton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. It is a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Fontbonne is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Fontbonne University offers both undergraduate and master's degree programs.
History and academics
Fontbonne University, founded in 1923 as a women's only college, takes its name from Mother St. John Fontbonne, who, in 1808 after the French Revolution, refounded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ). More than a century and a half before, in 1650, the Sisters of St. Joseph had been founded in LePuy, France. During the French Revolution, the sisters were forced to return to their homes and the community was dispersed. Some 28 years after the re-founding, six Sisters of St. Joseph came to the United States in 1836 and established American roots at Carondelet, a small community in south St. Louis, Missouri. Five years later, in 1841, they opened St. Joseph's Academy for girls.
1923 — First classes began at Carondelet following World War I, with the first eight baccalaureate degrees given in 1927. Over the next 20 years a liberal arts curriculum was developed. A cafeteria, swimming pool, and gymnasium were added to the original buildings (Ryan Hall, Science Building, Fine Arts Building). Medaille Hall, the university's first residence hall, was dedicated. The school received North Central accreditation.
In the 1950s the department of education was expanded to include special education, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and mental handicaps. A major in deaf education linked Fontbonne with St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf. The department of communication disorders was established to prepare teachers for speech-impaired children and adults
On October 24, 1970, a group of eight African American women entered the library of Fontbonne University with a common goal. Yolande Nicholson, Rita Hunt, Jeannette Gauda, Collette Lemelle and four others chained the doors of the library shut and began to do their homework as they occupied the space. Their goal was this: to see the points in their previously written manifesto come to reality. These brave young college women took it upon themselves to make the rights of blacks be known and to bring about change at Fontbonne, positive change. In their manifesto they asked the following changes to be made at Fontbonne: to have an African American administrator, an African American officer in both Financial Aid and Admissions, an African American counselor, an orientation program more geared towards blacks, black cultural education experiences, a specific area in the library for black students and finally an establishment of a black artist series fund. In cohesion with these demands, the manifesto demanded that there would be an improvement of working conditions and wage increasement of black workers at Fontbonne. As it can be seen, the demands of these women were an effort to bring the black community into the Fontbonne Community, as they felt they were being excluded.
Fontbonne College became co-educational in the 1970s. Service programs were expanded to areas such as dietetics, special education, communication disorders and deaf education. A predominately lay board of trustees was formed. The Fontbonne Library was dedicated, along with two more residence halls. Through the late-1960s student protest movement left Fontbonne mostly untouched, in October 1970 black female students seized the Fontbonne library to demand more African American students and teachers, and a role in shaping courses and cultural programming.
1980 to present day — The OPTIONS program for nontraditional evening and weekend students was established. The first male president, Dr. Dennis C. Golden, was inaugurated in September 1995. The school celebrated its 75th anniversary during the 1998-99 academic year. March 14, 2002 marked the change in status from Fontbonne College to Fontbonne University.
The Fontbonne Griffins compete at the NCAA Division III level. Most athletic teams are members of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). Men's lacrosse was added in 2010 and competes in the Division III Midwest Lacrosse Conference (MLC). Women's lacrosse competes as a Division III independent. The university will add women's field hockey in the Fall of 2011, the team will play as an independent member of Division III. The university fields 10 Men's Sports and 11 Women's Sports: